Thursday, September 19, 2019

Are You Overlooking This Security Gap on Your Campus?

Professor speaks in college lecture hall
If your college or university receives federal funding — which many major public and private universities do — your public safety or campus police department is hopefully putting the finishing touches on your annual security report (ASR) as required by the Clery Act.

ASRs must be published by October 1 of each year and must include campus crime statistics for the previous three calendar years, steps your institution has taken to improve campus safety, and police statements regarding:

  • Crime reporting
  • Campus facility and security and access
  • Law enforcement authority
  • Incidence of alcohol and drug use
  • Prevention of and response to sexual assault, domestic or dating violence, and a stalking

Not only do on-campus crimes affect the personal safety of your students or staff, they can also hit your university's pocketbook since failing to report certain crimes in your ASR can turn into major fines. As of February 2019, the minimum Clery fine is $57,317 per violation, and penalties can reach much higher figures. One state university, for example, was fined $4.5 million for its failure to protect students from sexual abuse.

While we can't help you with adhering to the Clery Act or completing your ASR, we do have some ideas about why having a secure campus is critical to your university's long-term success and how you can improve your security measures to keep your students and staff safe.

What are the consequences of security gaps?


Fines shouldn't be your only concern when it comes to adhering to the Clery Act. After all, the real point is to protect your students. Better security measures discourage crimes, hold employees and staff accountable, prevent internal threats, and promote good security practices on campus.

Of course, fines can be a major headache for your university, but they pale in comparison to the ramifications of a crime. Not only are your students and staff at risk of physical or sexual harm as the result of such crimes, a high level of incidents reflects poorly on your university. A hostile environment discourages students from attending your university, deters organizations from interacting with your institution and holding events on your campus, and indirectly affects the availability of grants and research opportunities.

What should you do to improve campus security?


There are obvious security measures that have likely long been a part of your campus security strategy — door locks, security cameras, patrol officers. But those shouldn't be the only steps you take to prevent crimes. Having a way to hold university staff and outside vendors accountable for their access to various areas on your campus is critical to providing a safe and secure environment.

Every day, your campus probably sees anywhere from hundreds to thousands of people pass through its various doors. Locks are great, but how useful are they if your keys — even electronic access cards or fobs — are poorly managed? How many of your campus keys go missing each year? How much have you spent on rekeying doors because keys given to fired staff members or recently graduated student workers weren't turned in? What happens when a master key goes missing?

That's where key control can make a difference in your campus security strategy.

How can key control close the security gap?


Whether key are needed for short-term work, such as an outside vendor providing specialized maintenance in a secure building, or for long-term issue to university staff, you need to know exactly who has keys and when they took them.

Consider using an electronic key control system that secures keys and automatically tracks user access, holding employees accountable for what happens to keys they're responsible for. The system should be able to send management alerts when keys aren't returned in a given time, helping you respond quickly to a potential security vulnerability.

You should use your electronic key control system to manage long-term issue keys as well since even one unreturned key could fall through the gaps and be misused by a fired employee — even two years later. Be sure to run routine reports on key activity and perform audits to make sure long-term issue keys are still with the people who are supposed to have them and keys that should be returned are tracked down.

As you prepare your Clery Act ASR, are you confident that your campus already does everything it can to protect its students? Take your security strategy to the next level by better managing your keys.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Cost of Losing Your Dealership's Keys

Updated September 10, 2019

Keys are on ground with car in background
On a normal business day at your dealership, keys pass through dozens of hands. They're passed back and forth between salespeople, sales managers, porters, and service technicians, which can quickly lead to disorganization.

If your dealership is still using pegboards or other manual methods to account for vehicle keys, there’s not an accurate way to determine how long someone has had a key checked out or even who checked it out. When keys go missing, the costs mount quickly.

The Cost of Replacing Keys


Not only is mismanaging keys unproductive and frustrating for employees, it leads to unnecessary expenses. In an informal survey of representatives from seven dealerships and automotive groups of various brands, we found that the cost of replacing keys ranged from $12 to $220, with an average cost of $84. The cost of replacing fobs was anywhere from $49 to $550, with an average cost of $191.

Respondents reported that each month, they lost anywhere from one to 60 keys, with the average being nine and the most common response being one to five. If your dealership lost five sets of keys and fobs at an average total replacement cost of $275, that’s $1,375 a month and $16,500 a year. That’s less the average of nine sets, which would amount to $29,700 annually!

Dealership Key Loss Graphic

The Trickle-Down Effect of Ineffective Key Management


Key replacement costs add up quickly, but that’s not all you have to worry about. Often, lost or unidentified keys results in impatient customers waiting for test drives, affecting the customer experience.

So what can you do to minimize the impact of missing keys? The first step is to make sure you know where your keys are at any given time and ensure only authorized employees can access them. If a key does slip through the cracks, have a system in place to be alerted that the key hasn’t been returned so you can look into the situation further.

It might not seem like a big deal to shell out a couple hundred dollars for a missing set of keys every now and then, but consider the long-term effects. If missing keys are costing you sales, how much is a solution for that problem worth to you?

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Five Tips for Training Millennials on New Technology

Group of multi-ethnic people in board room
Millennials are now the largest segment in the workplace. Since most of the employees you hire are going to be millennials, you’ll need to know how to train them effectively when your business implements new technology systems — especially with customer expectations at an all-time high. Employees who don’t know (or don’t care) what they’re doing will struggle to provide a good experience, and you’ll start to see the ill effects that untrained workers can have on your business.

Here are some tips to help you train millennials effectively on new technologies.

Keep It Flexible


Millennials like to believe they’re in control. They want to be able to do what they want, when they want to do it. More and more, this group of employees is demanding flexibility in the workplace, and that includes training. One way to avoid frustrating them is allowing them multiple time periods to train, with the ability to choose what works best for them. Putting them under time constraints or offering training at inconvenient times make them lose their sense of freedom.

Keeping training flexible is one of the keys to a millennial’s heart. But this recommendation isn’t just for millennials – trainees of all ages can take advantage of flexible training options.

Stay on Topic


Because the average attention span of millennials is 8 seconds, you need to avoid getting off topic. If you go at a slow pace or spend too long on one subject, you could lose their interest. When employees are disinterested, they won’t learn the necessary information to do their jobs. Additionally, sitting in training for too long makes the mind wander, which results in less learning.

Any extra information that isn’t considered essential to use the new technology shouldn’t be included. If any of your employees need extra assistance or further training, don’t make the ones who don’t need help sit there too. Make sure those who need it know who to contact if they have questions, need help troubleshooting an issue, or need additional training. If your tech vendor offers extra support resources, give employees the information they need to utilize these resources.

On the other hand, if you don’t spend enough time on training to make sure trainees have a good grasp on the technology and how it’ll help your business, they might not meet your expectations. Either way, your business will see poor results if you don’t find the sweet spot for training time.

Break It Up


You can help employees stay focused on training by separating trainees by job title. For example, salespeople might not need to be trained along with managers. By separating training sessions, you can ensure that only necessary information is being shared with each trainee.

Another way to keep boredom from setting in is allowing for frequent breaks. Sitting in one spot all day learning the ins and outs of a new technology isn’t considered fun (most of the time). Using short breaks lets your trainees stretch their legs, check their phones, or eat a snack.

Never Stop Training


Just because your employees are done with official training doesn’t mean they should stop learning. Millennials are more likely to be disengaged with their work – the Gallup Organization reports only 29 percent say they’re engaged with their work – so it’s important to keep their jobs interesting and fresh.

You can check if your technology providers offer training, and if they do, encourage your employees to take advantage of it. Your vendor may have written tutorials, phone training, or prerecorded videos to choose from. For your convenience, some companies offer on-site training at your facility or consultations via webcam. Helping your employees learn more about the technology and systems they work with will not only improve their job performance but also fight apathy.

Give Valuable Feedback


One of the most important parts of life is communication. It doesn’t matter how old people are — if they don’t communicate, they won’t get along. Millennials are no exception. Setting clear expectations and goals is key.

Make sure they understand what’s being asked of them, and return later with feedback on how they performed. Be honest with them, and they’ll respect you and appreciate any advice you give them. This gives them the opportunity to learn and improve, which is one of their biggest goals.

Millennials are taking over the workforce, and the sooner you know how to manage them, the sooner your business will start reaping the benefits of the valuable skills they bring to the table. If trained correctly, they can unlock the full potential of themselves and your systems.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Challenges to Managing a University Fleet

Fleet of vans
Universities utilize a large number of vehicles every day for various operations. Whether a vehicle transports students to and from campus or carries vital maintenance equipment, each one is extremely valuable both in purpose and replacement cost.

However, meeting maintenance schedules and keeping the fleet running aren't the only challenges. Depending on how many vehicles are in your fleet, you could be dealing with hundreds or even thousands of keys. Having a system in place to assist with key management is critical to keeping vehicles secure and preventing misuse.

Let's go over some of the specific challenges you'll face when managing your fleet's keys, and how you can overcome them.

Dealing With Misplaced and Unreturned Keys


Any time you give keys to an employee, there's a possibility that those keys will get misplaced or stolen. Whether an employee forgets a key on a bench or a stranger swipes it from an unsuspecting staff member, the end results is a vehicle — or even an entire fleet — left exposed. Your department is then faced with buying an expensive replacement key or having the vehicle rekeyed completely (more on that later).

The potential for losing a key could be compounded by student workers who have access to fleet vehicles, such as campus buses. Studies have set the average attention span of Generation Z, which makes up the bulk of your student workforce, at around eight seconds. From smartphones and social media to class schedules and projects, your student workers already face a number of daily distractions that could lead to a misplaced key. It's important to keep them on the right track and ensure the keys they use end up where they belong at the end of their shifts.

Replacing Locks and Keys


Like we mentioned earlier, when keys are lost or stolen, you may have to pay to get one or even all of your vehicles rekeyed.

Though it wasn't a university fleet, the Anchorage Police Department found out the hard way that the price for rekeying vehicles can get extremely high. The department paid $140,000 to change the locks on all of its patrol cars after it suspected that keys were taken during a robbery at a local tire shop. The department discovered that certain keys could start any patrol car of the same make and model, prompting the massive key change.

While vehicles in your fleet might not share keys across multiple cars, you could still incur substantial rekeying and key replacement costs if even one key were to go missing. Replacing modern key fobs can be expensive, with costs ranging anywhere between $50 and $400, depending on the vehicle brand. But that's for the fobs alone since programming will be an additional price of $50 to $100. How many locks and keys can you replace before making a serious dent in your budget?

Keeping Your Campus Safe


Unnecessary expenses aren't the only thing your department faces when keys are lost. Even if you think you have the best policies for managing your fleet, poorly secure keys leave your entire university and students at risk.

Stolen vehicles can be used in criminal activities or lead to traffic collisions, affecting students' lives and your university's safety reputation. That's in addition to the potential that your university could be held liable for damages resulting from the misuse of a stolen fleet vehicle if your key control practices are ruled inadequate.

Finding a Solution


Controlling your fleet keys doesn't have to be a nightmare. Consider using an electronic key control system that secures and automatically tracks access to keys to mitigate security risks and remove uncertainty about who's using your vehicles and why.

Limit the risk of full-time or student employees misplacing or losing keys by holding them accountable for what happens to keys they're responsible for. An electronic key control system should be able to alert a manager if a key isn't returned within a set amount of time, giving you the ability to react quickly and know exactly who should have the key. This encourages employees to practice good stewardship of keys.

Key management might be the last thing you worry about when it comes to your university fleet of vehicles. But when a key gets lost or stolen, you'll wish key security had always been at the top of your mind. Get ahead of the risk and use an electronic key control system to manage your fleet's keys.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

How to Make Your Multifamily Property Appeal to College Students and Their Parents

Young woman with mother moving into apartment
Shared bathrooms. Crowded laundry facilities. Cinder-block rooms the size of a postage stamp. These are just a few of the realities of dorm living that drive 36 percent of private-university students and 60 percent of public-university students to live off-campus.

Some higher education institutions that are experiencing a shortage of on-campus housing are even offering students incentives to find alternatives to dorm living.

If your multifamily property is located near a college or university and would like to increase occupancy, targeting these college students could be the answer, even if your property isn’t a dedicated student housing community. The key is appealing to students and their parents.

Attracting Student Residents


When looking for off-campus housing, students have fairly practical expectations. They want basic amenities such as computer/printing stations, high-speed Wi-Fi, in-unit washers and dryers, and parking.

Students also tend to be budget conscious and appreciate value. Living in an off-campus apartment might not be much more expensive than living on campus (in fact, it might even be less expensive!). The national average cost of room and board in a dormitory is $8,887-$10,089, which averages out to $987-$1,121 each month for a nine-month school year. For an apartment shared with a roommate for a 12-month lease, the average cost of rent, utilities, internet, and groceries, amounts to $895 a month.

While basic amenities like internet access and a convenient place to do laundry might not seem like huge selling features, be sure to highlight them when marketing to college students. To emphasize affordability, be upfront with all costs (rent, fees, etc.) and show cost breakdowns for the various floorplans you offer. Bear in mind that this tactic is likely to be less effective if you’re located in a more expensive city such as New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, or San Francisco.

Appealing to Parents of Students


When it comes to getting college students to sign a lease with your property, getting parents on board is critical, especially if they’ll be the ones writing the rent check. Research by Conversion Logix found that while 18-24-year-olds searched the most for student housing, there were a significant number of 45-54-year-olds searching as well. This indicates that parents are on the hunt for apartments for their college students.

When parents help their children select a college, safety is a top consideration. In a Wearsafe survey, over half of parents said they were “very concerned” about their child’s safety while away at college. If you want your property to appeal to parents of prospective students, security is a key selling feature to build a good reputation for your property and put parents’ minds at ease.

While you likely already have security measures in place, such as lighting or gated access, don’t neglect one essential component of a safe community: measures to control employees’ and contractors’ access to keys. Put yourself in parents’ shoes. How would you feel about an employee or contractor having access to a master key for the apartment in which your student lives?

Unfortunately, misuse of keys can easily go unnoticed if employees or contractors have a legitimate reason to be using them. For example, maintenance personnel need access to keys in order to address maintenance issues. But what happens if someone begins using these keys to unlawfully enter units? What if contractors are given access to keys without adequate oversight?

To hold employees accountable and mitigate security risks, implement a process for creating an verifiable audit trail that shows who checked out a key, when they used it, and how long they had it. If you use an electronic key control system that allows you to receive text or email alerts for overdue keys, take advantage of that feature.

By balancing college students’ and their parents’ expectations, you can present your property as the ideal place for college students to call home.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Stop Tool Theft From Wrecking Your Service Department

Open box of mechanic tools
With competition from independent shops, increasing adoption of electric vehicles, and the specter of self-driving vehicles, dealership service departments have a tough road ahead. Despite these challenges, one thing remains true: Fixed ops is the backbone of the dealership.

There are ample opportunities for increasing revenue in the service department, but there’s one issue that hurts profits and could even contribute to employee turnover: tool theft. Let’s examine how this problem affects your service drive and technicians.

Dealership-Owned Specialty Tools


If you buy a lot of specialty tools, you know that tool costs can skyrocket, especially if your shop does body work and you’re required to purchase duplicates of tools from specific brands to meet various manufacturers’ certification standards.

A rivet gun, for example, can run $8,000 to $12,000. If you own a certain brand of rivet gun and a manufacturer requires a different one, you’d have to fork out another several thousand dollars just to be able to work on a specific make of vehicle.

If you had even one $8,000 tool stolen, how long would it take you to recoup that cost?

Employee-Owned Tools


Staff attrition is one of the biggest threats to the auto mechanic industry, with 30 percent of dealership technicians leaving their jobs each year. Some even leave the field altogether. It doesn’t help that fewer people are graduating from postsecondary tech training programs.

One of the major factors deterring people from the field is the cost of purchasing tools, which sources estimate is anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000. Some technicians incur debt to pay for these tools, which takes a toll on employees’ career satisfaction.

Imagine how demoralizing it would be for an employee to have invested tens of thousands of dollars in these tools — their livelihood — only to have them stolen. Unfortunately, there have been several reported cases of this scenario happening at dealership service departments over the years:


One insurance executive suggested that businesses offer tool insurance to technicians as an employment benefit. An even better perk, however, is to help avoid tool theft in the first place.


Preventing Tool Theft


Regardless of who footed the bill for the tools in your service department, thefts will put a dent in your profits. By the time you tally up opportunity costs, insurance deductibles, and employee turnover, you’re looking at an expense that’s substantially more than the actual price tag of the equipment. To prevent tool theft, start with the tips below:

  • Require employees to lock up dealership-owned tools.
  • Encourage employees to lock their tools away in a secure location at the end of each workday.
  • Secure keys to tool chests, cabinets, or rooms where tools are stored. If you’re already using an electronic key control system in your service department to protect customer keys, consider using the system to manage tool storage keys.
  • Consider storing diagnostic scanners, tablets, and other small tools in electronic lockers that can be controlled with your electronic key control system.

By taking steps to protect the tools in your service department, you’ll not only protect your hard-earned investment but show your employees you value them. Looking for more ways to maximize your profits in the service department? Check out “How Electronic Key Control Can Help Your Service Department Get Reimbursed for Shuttle Rides.”

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The Human Side of Poor Key Control

Man with head in hands
Would you want to be known as the organization that allowed a thief to pilfer the property with a master key? What would you say to the media if someone stole a vehicle from your organization and used that vehicle in another crime? How would you rebuild trust with customers if an employee abused their key access to steal someone’s personal information or assets? How long would it take you to recoup profits lost from reputation damage?

There are real business consequences to poor key control. But what you might not have thought about is how misuse of keys and other assets negatively affects people’s personal lives — perhaps even your own or your loved ones’ lives.

For example, lost or stolen keys waste employees’ time and inconvenience customers who have entrusted their personal property to your business. In extreme situations, mismanaging keys can even put lives at risk, such as if an intruder steals an apartment key and hurts a resident or if a thief is involved in a fatal accident while driving a vehicle stolen from a dealership.

That’s why it’s vital for your organization to secure keys and reduce security vulnerabilities. Let’s take a closer look at how poor key control impacts employees, customers, and the community.

Employees


As mentioned earlier, when keys are lost, employees are forced to spend time dealing with interrupted operations, rekeying, and more. If unsecured keys are stolen, that can spell additional trouble for staff.

For example, after a car was stolen from a repair shop in Michigan, employees were concerned that  insurance costs would increase and the repair shop would lose credibility, hurting employees’ ability to provide for their families. At a Georgia prison, mishandled keys endangered corrections officers (COs) by enabling an inmate to swipe a key and open other inmates’ cells.

Customers


Customers and stakeholders also face the consequences of poor key control. In the automotive industry, there are plenty of horror stories involving customers whose cars were stolen while they were being serviced. After one man’s vehicle disappeared from the service drive, management told the customer that if they couldn’t locate the vehicle, the customer would be stuck replacing it himself.

Just as mishandled keys in a dealership’s service drive leave customers’ vehicles at risk, improperly secured and tracked keys at multifamily communities, assisted living facilities, and college dorms leave people's homes vulnerable.

If keys aren’t stored in a secure location with proper checkout methods in place, employees, vendors, or burglars can use these keys to enter a resident's home without authorization. There are countless headlines about intruders stealing cash, prescription medications, or other personal items. Although less common, there have also been cases of violent crimes against residents.

Additionally, ineffective key management can expose customers to data breaches and identity theft if employees abuse their key access to obtain devices holding confidential data. That was the case at a medical facility where a former IT employee stole a hard drive containing sensitive customer information and sold it online.

The Community


In some cases, the effects of unsecured keys can extend beyond employees and customers to the broader community.

One common way an unauthorized key user could put the community at risk is by driving a vehicle without permission, whether it’s a company fleet car, dealership inventory, a delivery truck, or a government vehicle. If that driver is involved in an accident, they could harm pedestrians, other drivers, or city infrastructure. In one Oregon town, for example, a car struck a power pole, leaving the entire town and surrounding areas without power.

A rare, but still concerning, scenario is a prisoner using a key to escape from prison or jail, posing a danger to society. At a New Mexico jail, an inmate swiped a key that had been left hanging in a lock. He then used the key to access an area containing housing pipes, where he and three other inmates — a group that included a convicted killer and murder suspect — escaped through a hole in the roof.

While everyone is responsible for their own actions, you can take steps to avoid putting your employees, your customers, and the wider community at risk. Investing in an effective key control system is one of those steps. Most, if not all, of the examples mentioned here could have been avoided if keys were securely stored in a way that only authorized people could remove them.

When deciding how you’ll secure your keys, considering the implications to your organization is important, but don’t forget to consider how people’s personal lives could be affected by your decision.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Condo Master Key Control: Five Risks and How to Solve Them

Burglar breaking in with key
Fueled by a heroin addiction, a maintenance technician at a Massachusetts condominium community robbed 19 separate residents over a period of a few years. The monetary value of the items amounted to several thousand dollars, but worse than that, many were irreplaceable heirlooms passed down through multiple generations.

In Canada, a condominium complex spent $30,000 to $40,000 to rekey its building after someone stole a bike from a storage unit.

The common thread in these stories is master keys. The maintenance technician abused his access to the master key to enter residents’ homes, and someone stole a master key from the fire safety box at the Canadian complex to let themselves in to the storage unit.

It’s not uncommon for condo associations to keep master keys on file (or at least copies of each resident’s key), but is the way you handle keys putting your association and residents at risk?

Master Key Risks


Unfortunately, it’s difficult to keep master keys out of the hands of unauthorized people and prevent authorized key holders from abusing their access. Some common issues include the following:

No Rekeying After Construction

During construction, contractors use a master key system to allow them to move easily throughout the building. Once the development is complete, it’s difficult to know which contractors and other vendors might still have master keys to the building. If your condo building hasn’t been rekeyed since it was built, you’re leaving homeowners vulnerable.

Unauthorized Duplication

Stamping keys with “Do Not Duplicate” provides a false sense of security. The Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) advises members to discourage customers from relying on this inscription as a security precaution, as it’s not legally binding unless the law prohibits duplication of the keys (such as keys used by the Department of Defense).

If someone wants a copy of a key badly enough, they aren’t likely to let the “Do Not Duplicate” warning stop them. A quick Google search reveals strategies for disguising an inscription, such as hiding it with a rubber cover or covering it with tape and writing a unit number or “Shed Key” on it, so the locksmith is more likely to make copies. There are even local threads dedicated to recommending locksmiths that will ignore the inscription.

Key Abuse

Assuming someone is authorized to use a master key as part of their job, can you be sure that they’re using the key for legitimate reasons? As one lawyer told The Palm Beach Post, even if condo associations have a right of access, it’s “not to be abused by a maintenance man who needs a private place, and not so a maintenance man can use a bathroom.” Failing to abide by these standards can lead to legal issues.

Key Theft

The risk of key theft goes up if you keep keys in an insecure place, such as a fire box that can be easily pried open, a pegboard from which keys can be swiped, or in a desk drawer that’s left unlocked. If you don’t maintain a verifiable access log to track who’s removed keys and when, that risk increases even more.

Carte Blanche Electronic Access

Smart locks, also called electronic locks or keyless entry, give residents the ability to unlock their doors with codes, fobs, or even their smartphones. Keyless entry is convenient, but it does come with more administrative effort than some property managers may realize. If the property uses a system with security tokens, condo association employees may choose to program a master access method that opens all unit doors. This practice presents many of the same risks as master keys.

How to Protect Your Community


To protect your community, follow the below best practices for key security:

Rekey When Necessary

If your building hasn’t been rekeyed since construction or if a master key has gone missing, it’s critical that you rekey to protect residents. To avoid this expense in the future, take steps to secure the keys in your care.

Inform Homeowners

Let homeowners know if you have a master key on file, how you’ll secure it, who will use it, and in what circumstances it’ll be used. If possible, request individual copies of unit keys instead of maintaining a master. Also notify residents when the key to their home has been removed and why.

Keep Accurate Logs

Keep a log of which employees and board members are authorized to access which keys and when. Be sure to update this record and collect any unreturned keys when an employee leaves or when new board members are elected.

In case you need to investigate a possible issue with key abuse, ensure you have a way to pull reports on demand. Using an electronic key control system to create an electronic log minimizes the possibility for human error and manipulation.

Implement the Right System From the Right Partner

To secure keys, implement a patented key control system (a recommendation that’s supported by the ALOA). If you use electronic locks and use preprogrammed access fobs or proximity cards, consider using an electronic key control system to restrict access to those tokens. Just be sure to choose your key control partner carefully — one of homeowners’ top complaints about associations is when management chooses low-quality or unethical vendors.

Train Employees and Board Members

Implement periodic key control training for employees and board members. This ensures that those responsible for keys know what’s expected of them and are aware of the consequences for failing to follow your key control procedures.

Without taking the right precautions, your master keys could be mastering you. By taking steps to secure keys and hold authorized users accountable, you can avoid costly security breaches and put homeowners’ minds at ease.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Is Your Dealership Inviting Organized Crime?

Lot of cars next to harborHow would you react if you discovered that five vehicles had been stolen from your dealership’s lot? What about when police tell you that organized criminals were responsible for the theft — and that those five vehicles were likely shipped overseas to be used in activities related to drug trafficking, terrorism, and other crimes?

Believe it or not, this exact scenario is happening more often, thanks to a common dealership practice: keeping keys in window-mounted lockboxes.

Why Dealers Love Lockboxes


Dealers who use window-mounted lockboxes say one of the reasons they prefer this key control method is it prevents salespeople from abandoning prospects on the lot to retrieve vehicle keys.

However, consider that 60 percent of the car-buying process happens online, with buyers spending nearly 15 hours researching their intended purchase. When prospects visit your store, they’ve already done their research and don’t want to spend time wandering the lot. Even if they did, having prospects in the middle of your sea of inventory only distracts and confuses them, delaying the sales cycle.

Having the vehicle they want to test drive already pulled up when they arrive for an appointment is going to make for a more positive experience than dragging them out to the lot to retrieve a key from the lockbox.

Why Thieves Love Lockboxes


In fact, keeping keys in lockboxes could make you a target for organized crime. Storing keys with each vehicle — as opposed to storing them in a secure location separate from your inventory — simply makes thieves’ jobs easier.

Sure, lockboxes are more secure than keeping keys inside an unlocked car, but as one Tennessee dealer realized, they’re not as foolproof as you might think. Professional thieves have ways to thwart lockboxes, such as using a master key they’ve purchased online, intercepting the fob signal, or simply smashing the box open.

How to Protect Your Inventory


To reduce the risk of theft, it’s important to implement a key control solution that meets at least the following criteria:

  • Prevents unauthorized users from removing keys
  • Keeps keys separate from vehicles
  • Allows salespeople to easily check out keys for test drives

Be sure to continually review your key security measures, especially since new vulnerabilities crop up every day.

To learn more about how organized criminals are targeting dealerships and what you can do to protect your business, download our eBook “Is Your Dealership Inviting Organized Crime?

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Customer Tip: Create a Daily Key Control System Checklist

Daily Key Control System Checklist
There’s a reason — several, in fact — some of the most successful leaders use checklists. Not only do they help you stay organized, they also help you delegate and achieve excellence. The same principles apply to effective key management.

With a small daily time investment in your KeyTrak system, you can save time in the long run and prevent hours of headaches in the future. Use the checklist below as a starting point and feel free to customize it for your organization. There are some tasks you should perform throughout the day and others you only need to handle at the end of the day. Once you get into the habit of using this checklist, it’ll become second nature.

Throughout the Day


Inspect the Drawer(s)

Log in, open each drawer, and quickly scan the contents to make sure all keys are properly attached to the tags and all tags have been returned to a slot.

Check the System Summary Screen

Check the System Summary screen for an at-a-glance overview of recent key and user activity. This screen is continuously displayed at the bottom of the main screen, making it easy to keep tabs on system transactions.

Review Automatic Email Reports

If you haven’t already, consider setting up automatic email reports so you can conveniently monitor system activity from your desk.

Pay Attention to Pop-up Messages

If a pop-up message appears on the screen, don’t ignore it. Be sure to follow any instructions it includes. Users should be trained to contact a system administrator, their manager, or KeyTrak support if they encounter an issue.

At the End of the Day


Ensure All Keys Have Been Returned to the System

Making sure all keys have been returned to the system at the end of the day helps prevent security breaches. Use the System Summary screen to quickly see how many keys are checked out.

Run Keys Out and Tag Inventory Reports

If you see that keys are still checked out of the system at the end of the day, run Keys Out and Tag Inventory reports to see which keys haven’t been returned and which users checked them out. Keep reports on file for at least 90 days in case you need them to investigate an incident.

Perform a Backup

Back up the system via an external media device or KeyTrak Cloud Backup and ensure you have a data recovery plan. This ensures that in the event of an event such as a power outage, you’ll have a map of each drawer’s contents.

If it’s not possible to complete all these steps personally, whether you’re going to be out of the office or the business closes after you’ve left for the day, you can share any or all of these tasks with a trusted system administrator.

Taking a few minutes every day to go through your checklist and monitor your KeyTrak system will help your business be secure, efficient, and successful.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Effective Key Management Saves Time and Lives

Corrections officer watching inmates
According to the Justice Department, about 4,400 people die in U.S. prisons every year, which equates to 12 per day. Whether it’s a fight among inmates or an inmate needing medical attention in their cell, your correctional officers (COs) need to react quickly and efficiently.

Unfortunately, when precious seconds matter and a CO needs a key, policies and procedures often get tossed aside. It’s not ideal to search and fumble for the right key and sign it out when every second counts in a dangerous circumstance.

Under the stress of the situation, whoever took the key may not put it back immediately. If the key isn't promptly returned and later left in an unsecured location, that opens the door for an inmate to swipe the key. If a CO loses a key after failing to complete the checkout log, then there’s no telling who might have it or who needs to be held responsible for losing it. It might even go unreported.

What happens when you do find out that a key has been lost or stolen? You may have to change multiple locks in your facility. That means dishing out significant funds, which could have been used for other facility upgrades.

You may think that these problems are unavoidable and that they happen in every jail or prison. However, there are several ways that you can avoid these issues in your facility.

Don’t Rely on Outdated Procedures


Old metal lockboxes and handwritten logs are outdated procedures that represent a major security and key management risk for your facility. Secure your keys with an electronic key control system that allows quick but secure access to keys.

Hold Employees Accountable


Make sure you know who’s responsible for keys by keeping accurate key audit trails. Keeping accurate audit trails helps with avoiding employee theft. With an electronic key control system that automatically tracks access, you can quickly know if a key isn’t returned and who removed it, holding employees accountable and saving you time and money.

Avoid Slow Key Checkout Methods


With a quick and easy key checkout method, you can make sure COs don’t feel compelled to grab keys without signing them out first because they don’t have time to waste in an emergency. An electronic key control system with a prompt checkout procedure, such as a biometric fingerprint reader, ensures COs aren’t wasting any precious seconds.

An electronic key control system can also help your COs in times of duress — especially when a CO may need to discreetly notify a supervisor of a problem without letting the inmates know. Being able to do so will ensure a quick response time and prevent the situation from escalating.

When all it takes is a second for things to go south, it’s imperative to have efficient procedures in place that don’t hinder safety or security. An efficient key management process can save your facility time, money, and lives.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

CO Training Doesn't End After Orientation

Prison guard tower
Correctional officers (COs) face dangerous situations every day. The 428,000 COs tasked with overseeing 2.3 million incarcerated individuals in this country are well aware of the stresses and risks of the job.

Let's break down the numbers. Correctional institutions have a higher rate of nonfatal workplace-related injuries (7.9 per 100 full-time workers) than ferrous metal foundries (7.4), sawmills (5.9), coal mines (3.7), and forestry and logging operations (3.1). In fact, the national average across all sectors is 3.1 — less than half of what COs face every day.

It would stand to reason that occupations with a high amount of risk, such as being a CO, would warrant a high amount of training. After all, commercial pilots, law enforcement patrol officers, and military soldiers receive extensive training before going out into the world and being entrusted with others' lives.

Unfortunately, that's not always the case for COs. Prisons and jails across the country are filled to the brim with inmates, while a shortage of COs is leaving gaps that are being filled by tired and overworked COs or, in a move that's becoming more common, inexperienced support staff. In some states and facilities, new COs are rushed through a basic orientation class then thrown to the wolves.

The realities of your staffing needs might prevent you from providing COs with much more than orientation before they're sent inside, but that doesn't mean training should stop there. It's more important than ever to maintain routine training — even if it's revisiting basic security processes like key management — for new and experienced COs alike.

Here are some areas where routine training is critical:

Defusing Dangerous Situations


Your COs will inevitably face dangerous situations that could escalate into fights, attacks, or riots. Sometimes it's better to be the brains in the situation than the brawn. Training on how to defuse dangerous situations helps COs keep the peace. A course on crisis intervention, for example, helped Deputy Warden Robert Montoya stay calm while negotiating with inmates during the New Mexico State Penitentiary riot in 1980.

Surviving When the Worst Happens


Physical attacks are going to happen, and COs need to be prepared for how to react. Hand-to-hand combat is probably part of your basic training program for COs, but it's an area that should get frequent refreshing. The ability to escape an attack and de-escalate the situation should be muscle memory. This skill is especially important for the support staff filling shortage gaps since inmates will anticipate they can take advantage of staff members' inexperience.

Catching Smuggled Contraband


From weapons and drugs to food and cell phones, there are any number of things your facility considers contraband, and keeping those items out is a growing challenge. Outsiders — and even insiders — are always searching for and evolving ways to get contraband inside. Routine training should cover the latest methods for smuggling contraband, such as drones, and reinforce the consequences for COs who are caught involved in smuggling.

Maintaining Security Processes


All it takes is one little slipup to give an inmate a chance to escape or instigate problems. Consider a scenario where a cell key is lost by a rookie CO. How soon would your key management officer know the key is missing? How much time and money would you waste rekeying cells because the CO was careless or wasn't held accountable? From making sure gates are closed to practicing sound key management, all security processes should get routine training refreshers.

Even if your COs get extensive training before their first day on the job, it's still important to reinforce these areas. COs must do their job right day in and day out, and even one mistake can lead to an attack or escape attempt. What do you do to make sure your COs always follow procedures?

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

How to Predict and Prevent Employee Theft

Man concealing money in suit jacket
Every year, workplace crimes such as employee theft costs U.S. businesses $50 billion. Most of these thieves aren’t hardened criminals who’ve been plotting to defraud their employers from the outset. In fact, the vast majority (96 percent) don’t have prior fraud convictions. With the right motivation and opportunity, employees will try to justify stealing time, money, information, or assets from your organization.

Not all employees steal, of course, so how do you spot and stop insider threats?

Three Characteristics of Employees Who Steal


While insider threats take many forms, people who have stolen from their employers can typically be described by one or more of the following three characteristics.

Disengaged


According to Gallup, only 33 percent of U.S. workers are engaged in their jobs. Apathetic employees are toxic to the work environment — they miss more work, negatively influence coworkers, cost money in lost productivity, and drive customers away. You might have guessed that they’re more likely to steal as well. In fact, business units with high numbers of disengaged employees lose 51 percent more of their inventory.

Desperate


Desperation can send seemingly trustworthy veteran employees down a slippery slope to fraudulent behavior. Circumstances that can drive people to extreme measures include:

  • Death
  • Divorce
  • Family problems
  • Financial difficulties
  • Addiction struggles
  • Medical issues
  • Job troubles
  • Unstable life circumstances

Faced with any of these issues, an employee could feel there’s no other solution than to misappropriate resources. They might try to justify their actions with excuses such as “The company makes millions every year. A few thousand won’t hurt,” or “I’ll return the money when I can.”

Disgruntled


Disgruntled employees can wreak havoc on your company, retaliating for what they feel is unfair treatment, whether it’s low pay, disrespect, or termination. They may steal proprietary information, facility keys, computer hardware, equipment, money, inventory, time, or things as small as office supplies.

Deterring Theft


Understanding why employees steal is one thing, but preventing theft is another. There are, however, a few things you can do to help nip fraudulent activity in the bud.

Address Suspicious Behaviors


Certain behavioral warning signals can indicate whether or not an employee is more likely to swindle your company:

  • Living beyond their means
  • Developing an unusually close relationship with a vendor, customer, or other business partner
  • Objecting to sharing job duties
  • Displaying a wheeler-dealer attitude
  • Acting irritable, suspicious, or defensive
  • Harassing other employees
  • Frequently showing up late or not at all
  • Abusing internet access by visiting inappropriate websites or spending too much time browsing

It’s important to monitor these behaviors and promptly address any areas of concern.

Hold Employees Accountable


As with most processes, your approach to security should never be “set it and forget it.” Management should be actively involved in ensuring the honest, appropriate employee conduct your organization expects. The following steps are a good start:

  • Have clear company policies that outline expectations for performance and conduct.
  • Enforce predefined consequences for noncompliance.
  • Implement checks and balances such as having employees share responsibilities or requiring two approvals for transactions.
  • Revoke access privileges and confiscate company property immediately when employees leave.

By holding employees accountable, you can reduce opportunities for theft.

Detect and Investigate Suspected Theft


Unfortunately, even with precautions in place, theft does still happen. To help you detect and investigate suspected theft, implement the measures below:

  • Secure restricted areas or equipment with hardware or software that can track user access.
  • Set up automatic alerts for suspicious activity on key control, accounting, or other systems.
  • Establish a tip hotline or other reporting process employees can use to anonymously report any fishy behavior they’ve observed.

Once you’ve been tipped off to possible wrongdoing, be sure to act promptly to minimize the impact on your organization.

By being proactive and aware of what’s going on inside the four walls of your business, you can avoid being a part of that $50 billion tab for employee theft.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Multifamily Reputation Management Starts Offline

Person's finger leaving review on smartphone with boxes in background
How many people read reviews before leasing an apartment? A better question is, how many don’t? According to studies by Apartments.com, Entrata, NMHC/Kingsley Associates, and reputation.com, the majority of prospective renters — 80-98 percent, depending on which study you look at — want to know what other people have to say about an apartment community before they sign a lease.

With those numbers, it’s not hard to see why reputation management is a hot topic in the multifamily industry. You can find a lot of tips for monitoring and responding to reviews, but don’t forget that reputation management starts offline. After all, if residents have a positive living experience, what reason do they have to leave a poor review?

To create that kind of experience, you have to consider what residents really want. Some people value amenities such as outdoor kitchens or valet trash service, but many prioritize features that should be givens, like privacy and safety.

Here are three steps you can take to give residents the protection they need to feel that your community is the place they want to call home.

Respect Living Space


Even though they don’t own their homes, apartment residents want to maintain a sense of personal space and feel secure where they live. In fact, 63 percent of millennials say they’d move out of an apartment that lacks security.

A big part of maintaining those expectations is holding your staff accountable for when and why they can access units. If an employee enters an apartment without permission or proper notice, the resident who lives there will feel like their sense of privacy has been violated.

Case in point: A former tenant of a Washington property complained in a review that his apartment had been entered without permission or written notice three or more different times while he was away from home, and his front door was left unlocked.

1-star review: My apartment was entered at least 3 different times when I was not home and my front door left unlocked.


Having a clear key control policy and keeping accurate key activity records will discourage employees from entering apartments without authorization. In addition, using an electronic key control system that automatically notifies residents when the key to their unit has been removed increases transparency and reduces unwelcome surprises.

If you use smart locks, it’s important to treat security tokens such as fobs and cards with the same level of security you would traditional metal keys. For example, you wouldn’t want to program a token with access to all the units on the property, and you need to control who can use any preprogrammed security tokens.

Minimize Package Theft and Loss


Over the past decade or so, e-commerce sales have steadily grown. In 2018, they accounted for 14.3 percent of total retail sales, up from 13 percent in 2017 and 11.6 percent in 2016. As you’ve probably discovered, what this trend means for multifamily properties is more packages. The average property receives 150 packages a week, and 270 a week during the holiday season.

1-star review: Our packages are getting stolen from our front desk.It should come as no surprise, then, that many property reviews feature complaints about packages being stolen, the office refusing to accept deliveries, or residents not knowing when packages have been delivered to the leasing office.

Package delivery is a sore spot for property managers and there’s no easy solution. Still, it’s essential to maintain resident satisfaction by implementing an efficient package tracking method for logging deliveries. If your system of choice notifies residents via email or text that their packages are ready to be picked up, that's even better.

The National Apartment Association’s white paper “How to Effectively Manage Package Acceptance” includes some further suggestions for addressing package problems.

Safeguard Private Information


The moment a prospect submits a rental application, you have access to a wealth of sensitive information and documents: Social Security number, credit history, pay stubs, etc. Once someone signs a lease and moves in, you also have keys to their mailboxes, which can hold similar sensitive documents.

1-star review: OUR IDENTITY WAS STOLEN. Great job for not safeguarding tenant credit information.Failing to safeguard a resident’s personal information won’t do any favors for your reputation. In a review of a Michigan complex, a woman complained that her and her husband’s identities had been stolen a couple weeks after their rental application was run. She described how a leasing agent was stealing residents’ information, applying for credit in their names, and then retrieving any correspondence related to the thefts from the people’s mailboxes before they received it.

It’s important to implement both cybersecurity and physical security best practices to secure digital records as well as keys to mailboxes and other areas that contain residents’ personal information.

There’s a lot that goes into reputation management. Monitoring and responding to reviews will help you shape your online reputation — but that’s after people have already voiced their opinions. By creating a positive living experience, starting with the three steps mentioned above, you can influence how people talk about your property online and prevent them from rushing to complain about you on review sites and social media.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Customer Tip: Create a Tag Preparation Process

Tags in KeyTrak drawer
Any key control process is only as effective as its users. That extends to simple tasks like preparing key tags for use with your KeyTrak system. To make the process secure and efficient, follow the best practices below:

  • Ensure a designated system administrator or manager is the only person who can access fastening tools. This will prevent keys being removed from or added to the system without authorization. If a key needs to be removed from the key tag, the administrator must be notified to reattach it.
  • Tag keys as soon as possible and put them in the system. The longer you wait to start tracking keys, the more your risk grows.
  • Store tags and fasteners separate from the system. Ideally, keep tagging supplies near a PC where the administrator or manager can access our Web Plus remote software. That way, administrators don’t have to transport tagging supplies back and forth to the KeyTrak system, and they can prepare tags and add new keys to the system without tying up the system.
  • Follow industry best practices for labeling key tags. In certain industries, labeling key tags is acceptable. For example, in the automotive industry, key tags usually include a vehicle’s year, make and model. Generally, however, you should avoid labeling key tags with door numbers or other details about the key. This is especially true for multifamily properties or high-security facilities where a lost key puts someone’s safety at risk.
  • Closely monitor your supply of key tags so you don’t run out. To order more key tags quickly and easily, visit our online supplies catalog.

By following these simple tips, you can ensure your key control process is as effective as possible. For more helpful information about getting the most out of your KeyTrak system, be sure to read some of our other customer tips as well.

Monday, April 8, 2019

How to Prevent Student Worker Security Risks

College student in a dorm room.
Transportation, computer labs, student housing — almost every university offers a wide variety of employment opportunities to students who'd like to earn money and get valuable job experience while they complete their degrees.

Depending on the student worker's role, you trust them with access to heavy vehicles, campus network servers and dorm room keys, among many other sensitive and valuable assets and areas. While this access is critical to the students' ability to do their jobs — and provide a great educational and living experience to their fellow students — a lack of clear security protocols and accountability can leave your university at risk.

What's the Worst That Could Happen to Me?


You likely have handbooks that outline rules, responsibilities and consequences for what happens when student workers fail to meet existing security standards. However, inadequate security practices might mean you won't know there has been a problem with a student worker's access until it's too late.

Consider that one of the biggest security risks for any business is its employees. When it comes to protecting your campus and students, your security protocols can be a matter of the least common denominator — your campus is only as safe as how the lowest-ranking person on your staff treats their access to secure assets and areas. Do you trust a 19-year-old resident assistant (RA) to make the right call on not loaning a friend a master key at 3 a.m. in the middle of midterms?

Your student workers who have access to keys — both physical and electronic — are the gatekeepers to the safety of your other students. Without proper oversight and accountability, even simple mistakes can have dire consequences.

One Texas university learned this lesson the hard way when a man who had been dating an RA allegedly used a master keycard belonging to the RA to access another student's room. Police said the man had intended to commit a sexual assault. The RA was unaware that the keycard had been taken or that the assailant knew her PIN until after the attack happened.

What Can I Do?


Tailored security training should be a priority for every employee — from department deans to student workers — on your campus to equip them with the tools and knowledge required to prevent major security breaches. For example, student workers need to know how to spot potential criminals trying to gain access as well as understand the real-world consequences of losing a key, which affects the safety of their friends and fellow students.

You should also consider a key management system that automatically tracks key and asset access so employees know they'll be held accountable for how their credentials are used. An electronic key control system would help you secure your university's keys while tying access to individual employees. The system you choose should be able to alert higher-level staff when a key is accessed outside normal hours or isn't returned within a given time frame so key use isn't abused either by student workers or somebody close to them.

Protecting the students on your campus is one of your top priorities. But putting too much trust in your student workers without oversight could leave other students vulnerable to theft or assault. What will you do to prevent your student workers from abusing their access privileges?

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

How Electronic Key Control Can Help Your Service Department Get Reimbursed for Shuttle Rides

As margins on vehicle sales grow tighter, fixed ops is claiming a larger share of dealerships’ gross revenue. In 2018, NADA data showed that fixed ops brought in nearly 50 percent of gross profits.

At the same time, 72 percent of dealers say warranty work due to recalls is higher than it was five years ago. While warranty work is often a source of frustration for service departments, there is one way to maximize warranty revenue that you could be missing out on: reimbursement for courtesy shuttle rides.

Claiming Reimbursement for Shuttle Rides


Some OEMs will reimburse dealerships for courtesy shuttle rides provided to customers with warranty service appointments. GM, for example, will reimburse up to $7.50 each way.*

Let’s assume your OEM reimburses you $5-$7.50 per shuttle ride. It doesn’t seem like much, but consider how much that adds up to depending on the number of shuttle rides you offer:

100 rides/month = $500-$750/month = $6,000-$9,000/year  • 250 rides/month = $1,250-$1,875/month = $15,000-$22,500/year  • 500 rides/month = $2,500-$3,750/month = $30,000-$45,000/year


If you’re already offering shuttle rides that are eligible for reimbursements and you’re not claiming those funds, you’re flushing money down the drain. Of course, how do you request those funds if you don’t have records of all the rides?

Using Electronic Key Control to Help Prevent Unrecorded Rides


You may have a log for tracking shuttle rides, but if someone forgets to update the log, you miss out on an opportunity for reimbursement. If you have an electronic key control system in your service department, you can take advantage of that system to help prevent unrecorded shuttle trips.

When you store the shuttle keys in the system, the driver has to check out keys for each shuttle ride. By requiring the user to enter a reason (e.g., “shuttle ride,” “gas refill,” “service”), you can keep track of when you provided shuttle rides. With this method, you could easily recoup hundreds of dollars each month in unrecorded trips.

By using electronic key control to help you capture potential reimbursement opportunities for shuttle rides, you can make the most of your warranty appointments.

* Reimbursement amounts and guidelines are subject to change. Please check with your OEM for more information about courtesy shuttle transportation reimbursement.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

A Four-Minute History of Key Control

Keys have undergone quite the transformation over the centuries: wooden beams in ancient Egypt, ornate rings in ancient Rome, oversized iron keys in medieval Europe, five-pin Yale keys invented in the late 1800s (and still in use today) and even no keys at all, with the advent of keyless entry.

Regardless of the form keys take, they’re as valuable as the areas or items they protect. They’re also only as secure as the key owner’s ability to manage who can use them. That’s why key control exists. Take a few minutes to explore how key control has evolved over the centuries.

Key Wearing


In ancient Rome, only the wealthy carried keys, because most people didn’t own anything valuable enough to warrant locking it up. Those who did own valuables stored them in secure boxes and wore bronze keys fashioned as rings on their fingers or on straps or chains around their necks. Wearing keys was a status symbol, much like wearing multiple-carat diamond jewelry is today.

Carrying keys continued to be a privilege belonging to the affluent in medieval Europe, and keys became more elaborate as locksmithing evolved into an art form. Usually made of iron or bronze, keys were as long as 12 inches and featured intricate ornamentation.


Ancient Roman and medieval keys
Ancient Roman and Medieval Keys


Pegboards, Cabinets and Lockboxes


With the Industrial Age, the lock-and-key system went through a series of transformations that made locks more secure and keys smaller and thinner. Unlike the days where only the elite carried keys, average people became key holders.

With more keys in circulation, businesses began formalizing key control. Hotels, for example, used cabinets or wooden panels with hooks for keys, often labeling each key with the number that corresponded to the room. When a key was removed, a manual log book was updated with details such as which key was taken, who it was issued to, when it was removed, when it was returned, etc. Wooden panels later evolved to wall-mounted metal cabinets.


Wooden Key Panel at Ford Dalles Museum
By Steven Pavlov
[CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)],
from Wikimedia Commons
Metal key box
Metal Key Box

Then came the 1960s: a pivotal time in key control history, with two notable key control products being patented. The portable key safe, or lockbox as it’s now called, allowed keys to be stored in a small locked box that was attached to doors of homes for sale or windows of vehicles on dealership lots. Perforated hardboard, or the pegboard, provided an easily installable way to store multiple sets of keys. Both of these key storage methods are still common today.

Lockbox hanging on door
Lockbox
Keys hanging on pegboard
Keys Hanging on Pegboard


Electronic Key Control


As key cabinets and pegboards became commonplace, an entrepreneur noticed that people weren’t always able to maintain control over their keys. Keys went missing, people failed to update (or manipulated) key control records, and businesses spent thousands on rekeying costs.

In 1987, an entrepreneur created an electronic key control system that automatically captured the details of each transaction every time a key was removed. That system was KeyTrak. Today, there are multiple types of electronic key control systems on the market, including vending-machine-style systems, PC-based systems tied to electronic metal drawers, and wall-mounted panels. Some systems, however, still require manual steps, such as scanning a key tag, that are vulnerable to human error.

Open key control system drawer
Electronic Key Control System

Keyless Entry


In the 1970s, an inventor created a lock using a programmable key card — no metal key required. Today, keyless entry systems, also called smart locks, allow people to manage access to their buildings or assets with fobs, smartphones, fingerprints and codes entered on keypads.

Businesses are adopting smart locks for key benefits such as the ability to grant access remotely, disable an individual’s access without having to collect a key or rekey locks, and create an audit trail of door access. Security professionals are divided in their opinions on the safety of keyless door locks, so some businesses still choose to use traditional locks or a combination of traditional and keyless locks.

Smart lock
Smart Lock


Throughout the history of key control, one thing has never changed (and never will): the need for human accountability. No matter what form of access control you use, make sure you have a reliable system to track who can enter restricted areas and handle valuable assets so you answer the question "Do you know where your keys are?"